|Player:||KP Pietersen, PD Collingwood, AN Cook, AJ Strauss, MS Panesar, SJ Harmison|
|Event:||Pakistan in British Isles 2006|
DateLine: 2nd August 2006
Kevin Pietersen has insisted a hundred is "just around the corner" as he bids to join England's list of century-makers in the ongoing Test series against Pakistan.
The South Africa-born batsman has stepped out of the limelight during the opening two matches of the four-Test series and has yet to make 50 in his three innings so far.
In the drawn series opener at Lord's, Paul Collingwood, Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook and Ian Bell all reached three figures, with Cook and Bell both repeating the feat in England's innings and 120-run victory in the second Test at Old Trafford.
The Manchester match, where England won inside three days, also saw fast bowler Stephen Harmison twice take five wickets in an innings, with emerging left-arm spinner Monty Panesar dismissing five of Pakistan's top six on the final day.
Pietersen, in the run-up to the second Test, challenged the lesser-known names in the side to compensate for the loss of injured Ashes-winning skipper Michael Vaughan and star all-rounder Andrew Flintoff.
"I'm not really there to shoulder the responsibility of the whole England team," the Hampshire shot-maker explained.
And while the likes of England young guns Cook, Bell and Panesar all responded to Pietersen's words at Old Trafford, the man himself now wants to make a major contribution come the third Test which starts at Leeds's Headingley ground on Friday.
"I've missed out in two Test matches now," Pietersen admitted. "It would be nice to get a hundred and I know I'm training and doing everything I'm supposed to do to prepare as best I can.
"If it happens it happens, but if it doesn't I'm sure it's around the corner somewhere," the 26-year-old added.
Despite his relative lack of success against Pakistan this series, Pietersen's overall Test figures remain impressive.
In 16 matches he has scored 1,350 runs at an average of more than 46 with four hundreds. Nevertheless, six innings have passed since he got to fifty.
But the previous time Pietersen endured such a run he ended it, in style, with a Test-best 158 against Australiia at The Oval that helped England secure the draw it needed to take the Ashes series 2-1.
The current English Test season saw Pietersen off to a blistering start with back-to-back hundreds against Sri Lanka at Lord's and Edgbaston.
"I did get consecutive hundreds a couple of months ago so I'm not going to put loads of pressure on myself saying I have to get this or that," he explained.
"I've been speaking to (Yorkshire bowler) Matthew Hoggard about Headingley and he says it has been a very good wicket all season. Hopefully it's a good batting track, but with some bounce in it as well like Old Trafford."
Pietersen, speaking Tuesday at the Leeds launch of Test sponsors npower's urban cricket scheme for children, was delighted by the manner of England's victory at Old Trafford.
"We took on board a mentality where we had no complaints and no talking about injuries and just went out there and played.
"The boys responded to it well with some amazing individual performances from people like Cook, Bell, Harmison and Panesar.
"There was that time that key players kept going down and just when you think things couldn't get any worse someone else would go down.
"Injuries are a problem but we made a conscious decision not to talk about them too much and accept this is the best XI England have now - the emphasis must be on concentrating on winning games of cricket for England again."
(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)